Dolly Varden belong to the char family, the official name being salvelinus malma. Dolly Varden in Alaska can be both land locked freshwater fish and sea going fish. Further still there is a northern and southern variety. The main difference between these varieties is the size, the northern variety being much bigger at maturity. They are often confused with arctic char as they are very similar.
Dolly Varden are one of the most abundant fish in the state of Alaska being found all over and in different habitats. They love shallow fast moving streams and deep freshwater lakes. Sea going Dollys love brackish water and shorelines.
In southern Alaska the Dollys may take 5 or 6 years to reach maturity and even then be only about 12 to 16 inches in length. The norther variety take even longer to mature and reach 16 to 24 inches in length. These shimmery fish are recognizable by their characteristic light spots that may be white, yellow, red or pink.
If you catch a small spotted fish in Alaska--you just caught yourself a Dolly Varden!